Wednesday, September 28, 2011


Facebook Report Card

I don't do apps on Facebook so why I got sucked in with this one when I was tagged by a friend I haven't a clue. But once I had it posted on my page it immediately sucked me in. And it has not been a happy experience.

Report cards were a major thing when I was a kid. We had to excel. And let me say for the record that this card would have been a major event at our house. C's and D's were never tolerated. Regardless of the fact that in the end I have a B average.

Let me explain they have the friend number wrong. I have more friends (well, a few more) than that. But my grade school report cards often had a special note from the teacher that I did not play well with others. Not that I was mean or anything. I just found my classmates on the whole boring. I would rather sit in a corner of the playground and draw or write. Doing that in class because I found the teacher boring often also earned me the classic line, "Does not use time wisely." Since I am now an artist and have been a freelance writer I want all those comments resended.

The D in videos is definitely because of "Does not pay attention in class" and the "Does not play well with others." I was never one of those that chased fads or popular music or could name the artist and song or the movie and the actor. It is definitely hard to look something up on YouTube if you don't know those things. Oh, not that I don't use YouTube exhaustively but I look up things like how to stretch canvas or do a half double crochet stitch or fix the car. Maybe I will start posting those to my Facebook page to improve my video score.

As to the friend score: If you are reading this and on Facebook but not currently a friend go to my profile and invite me. I am a rather quiet (see remark about corner of playground) and low maintenance. I also have a fanpage which my father would say was under performing because I do not push like some of my friends. I would have flunked salesmanship and never been able to be an evangelist.

But what I choose to do I am good at.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That Was a Week!

Aspens turning
First my sister found out she had won first place for one of her photographs in the 35th International show in Raton. So she made plans to drive up Friday morning after she got off work. Then the repaired computer at last arrived on Thursday. Its hard drive had been replaced so what was once suppose to be Charley VI and became Charley VII because Charley VI would not boot up should probably have been renamed Charley VIII because it has a totally new mind that I have been trying to set up. But I digress again.

Friday came too fast and we drove out to Raton to pick up my sister's award. Her first big award for her photography so she was soaring for sure. Then Saturday we once again went four wheeling with her Jeep Rubicon. The Aspens were turning. Where oh where did the year go?

And my weekend with my sister was all too fleeting. But she taught me to use the cloning tool on my photo editing program. How to successfully shoot macro pictures. And to microwave scrambled eggs.

Sisters are priceless.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

TW3 - Time to Move On

Moving does not mean packing up the household belongings and hitting the road. As a child with a father in the military, and then later in my youth working for a major construction management company I got to redo my life on a regular basis via United Van Lines. Home was just where my parents lived. And given their lives not anywhere I had lived often.

Now I have lived in the same house for almost 15 years and in the same geographic area for almost 23. I until recently would image moving house just to not have to be trapped. But I have at last discovered that movement can be a rather static thing. It can be just a shift in attitude. Or turning just a bit to be aware there is another path to follow. It can be not calling the same friends for lunch or belonging to the same board of directors.

It can be like the newly emerged butterfly just quietly pumping its wings full so it can fly - a movement so still as to be almost no movement at all at first. Then that leap of faith. Leaving that comfortable space.

I have done a lot of moving this summer. Changing people and goals if not place. And while a bit scary it feels good. And it seems that the universe has united behind my shift in direction. Or should I say directions. To a lot of my old friends it seems that I am going all ways at once; that I am leaving behind what they believe is important.

The biggest visible shift has been to photography. But, never fear, I am still painting. I just am not painting for fairs or the expectations of galleries. I am painting what I want to paint. And I am painting at a pace my muse can support. A lot of energies are going into the photography just now but that is understandable. It is new and exciting to me especially given my success with it thus far. To the outsider this seems all so sudden. But it was a change in some ways long coming.

In some ways I was pushed by the economy, the down turn in fairs, the death of the Astro Van that took me to those fairs, my stand against giclee prints of my paintings, and just plain got to move off this damn leaf I am on. If I hadn't moved I could have been gobbled by some frog.

But yes I am still here. I have not moved house as the Brits say. I am still blogging but the focus of my blogs may have shifted a bit. More poetry on Creative Journey. Less politics on Travels with Charley. A tad more introspection here. And I have left groups I began on Facebook as I consider new groups I might want to start.

Times they are a changing. Like the butterfly whose new wings are at last dry: Move or die.

Monday, September 12, 2011

In Praise of the Cloud

After having put Fedex and HP down in a couple blogs I thought I ought to say something good about a company. After the external hard drive crashed last October and then the computer service tech I took it to erased the hard drive on my desktop I signed up for the Carbonite Cloud. It is an ethernet back up service that takes the worry out of backup.

I am an artist and I admit for losing complete track of time about backing up my computers. Or loading photos into my FlickR account. With the cloud I just have to be on line and anything new I post is backed up. And I can be on any device to access the cloud and pluck down information. I first used it when I had forgotten to download a file from my desktop to my laptop before taking off to a fair. Then again when the desktop failed yet again. I bought a new computer and upon receipt of it could immediately get the backupped data from the cloud and put it on the new one.

Now my desktop (still under warranty with HP) has failed and just before a couple exhibitions I want to enter or need to print photographs for. The 7-10 working days for repair is already past 6 and the computer is still in my living room because HP forgot to include the shipping label in the late arriving Fedex box. It won't even go to repair until tomorrow if Fedex delivers the label on time. Day 8. So I have been into the cloud more than once and no doubt will go there again.

Carbonite just reminded me that my backup on the desktop is a week late. I replied that Charley VII was broke again and received back a very nice e-mail from them offering a link for downloading the data from my sick computer when fixed and an 800 number to call if I had any problems with that.

I was amazed they had an e-mail that was not a noreply one like Fedex and HP. So right on Carbonite. I could not have made it through this year without you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Fed up with Fedex and HP

My HP computer broke again. Mother board this time. And of course it crashed on the first day of Labor Day weekend. It was under warranty and I have a laptop, but my desktop is where I do all my company business and all my photo editing. And, of course, I had a deadline on getting some photos printed for a show I was accepted in.

HP agreed that only 8 months old the computer was under warranty. They would send me a shipping box. It left their center on Tuesday with second day express shipping. It was schedule to be delivered by Fedex on Thursday.

That delivery date was critical because I could then box the offending computer and call for pickup on Friday. With any luck it would be in the repair center on the following Tuesday at the latest. I cancelled all appointments to not miss the Fedex delivery van. I rushed downstairs after making the bed just in time to see it pull out of my driveway.

No box on porch where most drivers leave packages, no box at my renter's apartment. She saw the Fedex very distinctive white truck drive away too with nobody getting out of it. Checked with my immediate neighbor to the west. He gets constant Fedex shipments of chemo drugs. No the driver had not left it there. I called Fedex Help line (now that is a misnomer) and they said the driver could not find my address.

I mentioned he was in my driveway. They asked if he had left an attempt to deliver tag. He had not. He did not get out of his truck because it was raining. Pony Tail Joe has quite a reputation in the Angel Fire area for non-delivery. As 29 comments to a community Facebook page attest. This is just a sampling:

  • We would have to start a new page to list all the complaints about Fed Ex deliveries in Angel Fire. My new skis were dropped at a local business that was closed the following 4 days. Home delivery was never attempted despite the tracking saying the package was delivered to my house.
  •  does seem to be the norm here with Fedex. He recorded that he could not find my address even though he was in my driveway.

  • I wonder if it's the same driver that lied about (not) picking up our package at the Resort last week. Even though it's not a public drop-off, the Resort has been kind enough to allow us to take our overnight lab work to their Fed-Ex drop off for the last few years because it (was) the most reliable pickup spot in town. We left our box in the usual spot and Fed Ex hadn't picked it up in 3! days so we took it to the Chamber. When Jo at the Chamber mentioned it to him she said he rudely said, "that box hasn't been at the Resort" - liar!! They need to get Fabian back as a driver - he was great!

  • This guy needs fired. And I plan to collect all these experiences and put them in a blog and mail it to Fedex

  • If it was the younger kid then yes! I filed a complaint just last week! Er
  • I never saw him because he did not get out of his truck

  • He better show up with my new Mac tomorrow after I paid for overnight shipping fees

  • I used to accept packages for people at the old bookstore. One of the reasons I quit doing it was because I had sooooo many problems with Fedex. Never had a problem with UPS.Fedex delivered a package to me yesterday....I met him at the top of the pass. I asked him if he was the regular guy and he said no...he was probably mid-to late 40's, with a pony tail. Heavy-set guy. White econoline van with FEDEX on it. That's all I can tell you...didn't get his name.
The Fedex agent on the phone insisted my box would be delivered later Thursday evening and to call back in a half hour. I did and the computer record had deleted the bit about the driver could not find my house. Package was not in the truck on Thursday for delivery. They apologized for the inconvenience and promised it would be delivered on Friday - hardly second day air I was paying extra for.

It has not been nine days since my business computer crashed. I did finally get the box on Friday at 6:30 but only because I saw the Fedex truck parked in the middle of my county road ready to once again drive off. I understand from a friend that Fedex is now commercializing their service in rural areas. I can only say . . . . well, I try to keep my blogs clean. I have for sometime tried to avoid all FEDEX shippers when I shop on line. This recent experience with them (see previous blog about VAS too) as validated that decision.

I am definitely worried about my computer being picked up and delivered to HP in a timely manner now that I finally have the box. I would drive it to a repair center if I knew where that was but HP forgot to include a return pre-paid label. So add that I am also fed up with HP.

Just got off the phone with Pakistan and HP will be sending my return label by the same company that took three days for an 2 day express air. You guessed it. Fedex. This is a computer company that has not yet gotten that you can e-mail Fedex labels to be printed out by the customer.

Friday, September 9, 2011

VRS is an Oxymoron

In the old days before technology ran wild you had a chance of talking to a real receptionist or a real operator. Note I did not say human. Ma Bell, the mega telephone company we insisted on breaking up, gave all their operators and service personnel a list of questions and responses from which they could not vary. One of Ernestine's lines on the old Laugh In comedy show was, "Is this the person to whom I am speaking?"

I was reminded of Lily Tomlin that made Ernestine famous yesterday in a series of telephone calls to HP and Fedex concerning the undelivered package to ship my broken computer back in. Both have a set list of questions and responses from which they are not allowed to vary regardless of how inappropriate the are.

 "Your driver failed to deliver the chemo drug package this week and my husband has died."

" We are sorry for your inconvenience."

"The funeral is Wednesday."

" We apologize for any inconvenience this has caused."

AND both have Voice Recognition Software as do several other companies I can mention. I had several well chosen words to say about VRS last night. None of which I think the software recognized. But then it also did not recognize what is was designed to recognize. In short, Voice Recognition Software is an oxymoron. It does not recognize voices and it is more hardware than software.

VRS might work with your home security system because you get to program it to match your voice and is not filtered through two telephones and miles of, if you are lucky, fiber optic cable. But VRS as used by companies on service lines make absolutely no allowances for the device you are speaking from, your sex, your regional accent, or any speech impediments, static on the line, or a major lightning storm. Most VRS used on customer service sites are programmed for the male voice in the lower registers (name the last time a man placed his own service call?). Screaming at it when it fails for the fifth time to know the difference between J and K just raises your voice an octave and makes you harder to understand. It does not like repetitions unless it is asking for it, will not start over if you say, "whoops, I meant 5 not 9," does not get that Alpha, Beta, Charlie is ABC, . . . well this list could go on. And there is a lot of GIGO as with HP last night that wanted one zip code to match one telephone number when for my problem they had two of each. Any one remember set and subset theory?

Let me say that the first few times I had to repeat something, because what it read back to me was so far from correct, I was a bit amused. When it thought 2300 was 1350 I pressed zero (once operator now what passes for a human voice) and figured I would rather talk to Ernestine. Instead I got Pakistani who had only a fleeting acquaintance with English and Ernestine's canned script. Even reverting to my 6th grade vocabulary did not help. In the end I reverted to screaming which had the same effect on him as it did on the VRS.

"Sorry if this caused you any inconvenience. Is there anything else I can help you with?"

I declined to mention he had not helped me with anything to that point and hung up. Sometimes all you can do is hang up and see of you can find an e-mail address on the website to which you can send your queries. Or never use that company again! Bring back Ernestine.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

I have fall fever

It has been raining this week. The grass as greened up and every wild flower that didn't bloom this spring because of lack of rain has burst into bloom. My neighbor has put his horses back in the field behind me. I throw on a hoodie and sit on my studio stoop with my camera and coffee. Life is good.

And so is the light if you like taking pictures. What a rotten time to have my desktop computer with the Corel Paint Shop program down. So I have contented myself with cropping on my laptop.

Meanwhile the list of things to do before winter settles in grows. But I just cannot pull myself away from the photographic opportunities visible from my stoop.

Oh, well, maybe next week the weather and view will not be so nice.

Monday, September 5, 2011

September already???

If this is September can scenes like the one be far behind?

Typing this from my laptop, Traveler. No, I am not traveling except in my mind. And once again my desktop is awaiting shipment back to the mothership of HP. I had cleaned my laptop of excess photos when Charley V failed and Charley VII was on order. That was end of November 2010. One thing would lead to another and I would not have my new desktop until almost the last day of that year. So when it failed yesterday I was well within my warranty time.

Tech support always creates chaos in my not that orderly desk area. Which led last night to found things and lost things - including my temper. But in the cool light f predawn I find myself wondering where the last year has gone, how many photos it is possible to put on a hard drive in less than nine months, and maybe it is time while the desktop is gone to rearrange the office area like I thought last December. And is there a way to organize my  computer desk so when the tech guy says remove all the cables from the back it is easy to do?

I think I have asked that last question before. Nothing has changed? Well, the Carbonite Cloud backup was a changed. And so when the desktop failed with all my latest photos formatted to go to the printer, for an exhibition I was accepted in, my panic was not as great as last September when four years of photographs and documents vanished in the ether at the computer nerd's house. And when HP delivers my desktop back with a new motherboard I can restore all data (but not programs) from the cloud. Now to figure out while programs I directly downloaded and which I ordered the CD's for. And it is that question that moved me from Photoshop to Corel Paint Shop Pro, but I digress.

Sometimes I have to have change thrust upon me and that has to be the theme for the last 12 months. Astro Van failed and forced me to look at my commitment to fairs. The new desktop allowed me the space and speed to more actively pursue photography. Marc's death a year ago made me look at moving on or not in relationships. And now some eager classmates from high school are planning a reunion. Oh, what I don't remember (thankfully) from high school. And what I do remember might be best forgotten. Might be some interesting blogs in that including David Rhodes who I had a crush on but he had a crush on my best friend. Stupidly asked me for her phone number!

But once again I digress. I have the photos I need now downloaded from the cloud to my laptop. I can copy them to a jump drive or just e-mail them to the printer I use in Taos. Downloading them proved that the cloud works and if HP techs lose my data I can reload the fixed Charley VII upon its return to me in two weeks. I will have the printed and framed and into the show in Raton before that.

Life moves on regardless of what is lost: computers, cars, people. I just wish sometimes it would slow down a bit.